The Enron Corporation started in 1985 by Kenneth Lay and was the result of a merger between Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth Corporation (Madsen & Vance, 2009). Enron had the biggest gas transmission system in the U.S which consisted of a network of 38,000 miles of pipeline (Giroux, 2008). After the addition of Jeffrey Skilling, Enron transformed itself from a producer and distributor of natural gas to a trading company (Chandra, 2003). Enron lobbied hard for deregulation and was capable of being able to trade almost anything (Chandra, 2003).This idea required vast amounts of liquidity (Chandra, 2003). Enron’s revenue began to increase at a rapid speed (Chandra, 2003). Skilling developed a workforce that enabled the concealing of billions of dollars through the use of special purpose entities, fraudulent financial reporting, and accounting inadequacies (Giroux, 2008). Enron committed fraud over an extended period of time to manipulate earnings in order to maintain compensation of central executives. Despite the collapse of Enron, many executives were paid millions of dollars while other Enron workers were terminated and lost all of their retirement funds (Giroux, 2008). Enron has went down in history as not only being the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. for that time period, but also the largest audit failure (Giroux, 2008).
How the corporate culture of Enron contributed to its bankruptcy
Enron executives behaved in an arrogant manner which helped to dismantle the company
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Enron was an energy trading and communications company located in Houston, Texas. During 1996-2001 Enron was given the name of America’s Most Innovative Company by Fortune magazine as it was the seventh-largest corporation in the US. The problem that led this company to bankruptcy was due to the fact that fraudulent accounting practices took place allowing Enron to overstate their earnings and tuck away their high debt liabilities in order to have a more appealing balance sheet (Forbes.com, 2002). Enron’s accounting team “cooked” the books to every meaning of the word so that their investors would not see anything wrong with the failing organization. This poorly structured company led people to jail time, unemployment, and caused retirement stocks to be dried up. Enron had a social responsibility to its stockholders and rather than being up front and honest about the failing company they hid every financial flaw in order to keep receiving money from its investors. By Enron not keeping a social
Enron had the largest bankruptcy in America’s history and it happened in less than a year because of scandals and manipulation Enron displayed with California’s energy supply. A few years ago, Enron was the world’s 7th largest corporation, valued at 70 billion dollars. At that time, Enron’s business model was full of energy and power. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling had raised Enron to stand on a culture of greed, lies, and fraud, coupled with an unregulated accounting system, which caused Enron to go down. Lies were being told by top management to the government, its employees and investors. There was a rise in Enron 's share price because of pyramid scheme; their strategy consisted of claiming so much money to easily get away with their tricky ways. They deceived their investors so they could keep investing their money in the company.
Enron, the natural gas provider turned trader of natural gas commodities and in 1994, electric, was once touted as the seventh largest company in America. Kenneth Lay, founder, began changing Enron from just a provider into a financial energy powerhouse. Lay took advantage of the dot-com boom of the late 1990’s by creating Enron Online, an internet trading platform. Internet stocks were valued at astronomical prices and were all the rage on wall street, who accepted the increasing prices as normal (Investopedia). On December 2, 2001 Enron declared chapter 11 bankruptcy, resulting in the loss of twenty thousand jobs and billions of investor and creditor dollars. Enron, once designated as "America 's Most Innovative Company" by Fortune for six years consecutively, enacted massive financial fraud at the fault of its top level executives: Kenneth Lay, Jeffery Skilling, and Andrew Fastow.
The word “fraud” was magnified in the business world around the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002. No one had seen anything like it. Enron, one of the country’s largest energy companies, went bankrupt and took down with it Arthur Andersen, one of the five largest audit and accounting firms in the world. Enron was followed by other accounting scandals such as WorldCom, Tyco, Freddie Mac, and HealthSouth, yet Enron will always be remembered as one of the worst corporate accounting scandals of all time. Enron’s collapse was brought upon by the greed of its corporate hierarchy and how it preyed upon its faithful stockholders and employees who invested so much of their time and money into the company. Enron seemed to portray that the goal of corporate America was to drive up stock prices and get to the peak of the financial mountain by any means necessary. The “Conspiracy of Fools” is a tale of power, crony capitalism, and company greed that lead Enron down the dark road of corporate America.
Jumping right into the summary then. Enron was one of the most successful corporations in America during its prime. Marketing electricity and other commodities, as well as, providing financial and risk management services to other companies were the main types of business that Enron conducted. However, Enron’s successful appearance was found out to be a façade, when it came out that the corporation was making a plethora of unethical business moves. Once the corporation’s actions became public, Enron’s fall from grace quickly followed. (Johnson, 2003)
The story of Enron is truly remarkable. As a company it merely controlled the electricity, natural gas and communications sectors of the world. It reported (key word, reported) revenues over one hundred billion US dollars and was presented America’s Most Innovative Company by Fortune magazine for six sequential years. But, with power comes greed and Enron from its inception employed people who set their eyes upon money, prestige, power or a combination of the three. The gluttony took over sectors which the company could not operate proficiently nor successfully.
In the early 1990s, a young company named Enron was quickly moving up Fortune magazine’s chart of “America’s Most Innovative Company.” As the corporate world began to herald Enron as the next global leader in business, a dark secret loomed on the horizon of this great energy company. Aggressive entrepreneurs eager to push the company’s stock price higher and a series of fraudulent accounting procedures involving special purpose entities were about to be exposed. In early 2002, the United States Justice Department announced its intent to pursue a criminal investigation into the once mighty company, Enron.
It was 13 years ago that the announcement of bankruptcy by Enron Corporation, an American energy, commodities and service firm at the time, would unravel a scandal resulting in what is regarded as the most multifaceted white-collar crime FBI investigation conducted in history. High-ranking officials at the Houston-based company swindled investors and managed to further their own wealth through intricate, shifty accounting practices such as listing assets above their true value to increase cash inflows and earnings statements. This had the effect of making the company and its shares look more enticing than they really were to potential investors. Upon their declaration of negative net worth in December 2001, shareholders filed a $40 billion lawsuit against the company, citing a drop of shares from around $90 per share to around $1 per share within only a few months. In light of these events, officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SCE) were prompted to initiate further investigation to figure out how such a drastic loss occurred.
The company Enron was formed in 1985 after two natural gas companies, Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth merged together. Kenneth Lay, former chief executive officer of Houston Natural Gas was named CEO of Enron and a year later, Lay was assigned to the chairman of Enron. A few years later, Enron launched a website to allow customers to buy stock for Enron, making it the largest business site in the world. The growth of Enron was rapid; it was even named seventh largest company on the Fortune 500 list; however things began to fall apart in 2001. (News, 2006). In the third quarter of that same year, Enron posted an enormous loss of over $600 million in four years. This is one of the reasons why one of the top executive resigned even though he had only after six months on the job. Their stock prices fell dramatically. Eventually, Enron filed for bankruptcy protection. This caused many investors to lose money they had invested in the company and employees to lose their jobs and their investments, including their retirement funds. The filing of bankruptcy and the resignation of one of the top executives, also led to an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Committee, which proved to be one of the biggest scandals in U.S. history. (News, 2006). All former senior executives stood trial for their illegal practices.
On December 2, 2001, less than a month after it admitted accounting errors that inflated earnings by almost $600 million since 1994, the Houston-based energy trading company, Enron Corporation, filed for bankruptcy protection. With $62.8 billion in assets, it became the largest bankruptcy case in U.S. history, dwarfing Texaco's filing in 1987 when it had $35.9 billion in assets. The day Enron filed for bankruptcy its stock closed at 72 cents, down from more than $75 less than a year earlier. Many employees lost their life savings and tens of thousands of investors lost billions. Who is to Blame? That is what at least a half-dozen Congressional Committees, the SEC, the U.S. Justice
Enron is considered America’s largest corporate failure in history and is a story about greed, fraud, and human tragedy. In 1986, Houston National Gas and Internorth, a natural gas pipeline company, merged to create Enron with Ken Lay as the chair and chief executive officer (CEO). Lay transformed the company into a high tech global operation that traded water, energy, broadband, and electricity. In less than a year, problems arose of fraud and an investigation confirmed inaccuracies with the companies accounting records. In 2000, Enron’s gross revenues exceeded $100 billion, yet no one really knew how Enron was making its money (Stein & Pinto, 2011). In September 2001 when bankruptcy was imminent, top executives secretively took their stock options worth millions while encouraging employees to keep theirs in the company. Three months later, more than 20,000 employees lost their jobs, insurance, and pensions when Enron announced bankruptcy. The movie Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room, is about how management, leadership, and organizational structures failed and caused unnecessary harm to many people (Gibney, 2005). This paper will look at how organizational behaviors including; ethics, culture, and leadership styles of top executive leaders caused the debacle of Enron.
Enron Corporation was an energy company founded in Omaha, Nebraska. The corporation chose Houston, Texas to home its headquarters and staffed about 20,000 people. It was one of the largest natural gas and electricity providers in the United States, and even the world. In the 1990’s, Enron was widely considered a highly innovative, financially booming company, with shares trading at about $90 at their highest points. Little did the public know, the success of the company was a gigantic lie, and possibly the largest example of white-collar crime in the history of business.
Ethics in the business world can often times become a second priority behind the gaining of profits and success as a company. This is the controversial issue that led to the Enron scandal and ultimately the fall of this company. Enron Corporation was an energy company, and in the peaks of their success, they were the top supplier of natural gas and electricity throughout America. Enron Corporation came about from a merger between Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth. Houston Natural Gas was a gas providing company formed in Houston during the 1920’s. InterNorth was a company formed in Nebraska during the 1930’s and owned one of America’s largest pipeline networks. In 1985, Sam Segnar, the CEO of InterNorth bought out Houston Natural Gas for $2.4 billion. A year later in 1986, Segnar retired and was replaced by Kenneth Lay, who renamed the company and created Enron. Enron was the owner of the second largest pipeline in America that measured over 36,000 miles. The company was also the creator of the “Gas Bank”, which was a new way to trade and market natural gas and served as an intermediary between buyers and sellers. As the company continued to develop, it became more of a trader rather than a producer of gas. This trading extended into coal, steel, water and many other areas. One of Enron’s largest successes was their creation of a website called, “Enron Online” in 1999, which quickly became one of the top trading cites in the world. By the year 2000 Enron as a company was
The story of Enron begins in 1985, with the merger of two pipeline companies, orchestrated by a man named Kenneth L. Lay (1). In its 15 years of existence, Enron expanded its operations to provide products and services in the areas of electricity, natural gas as well as communications (9). Through its diversification, Enron would become known as a corporate America darling (9) and Fortune Magazine’s most innovative company for 5 years in a row (10). They reported extraordinary profits in a short amount of time. For example, in 1998 Enron shares were valued at a little over $20, while in mid-2000, those same shares were valued at just over $90 (10), the all-time high during the company’s existence (9).
The case of Enron Corporation and Andersen, LLP can be noted as one of the most infamous fraud scandals in US history. Investors lost millions of dollars and ruined the public’s trust. Enron was once the seventh largest public company in the United States and Andersen LLP was the world’s largest and most respected business organizations. Enron’s stock prices soared to approximately $100 to less than $10 in 2001. How did these two big giants fall into oblivion and what could have been done to avoid the disaster of these companies?